- Hardcover: 256 pages
- ASIN: B000FUO0D8
- Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.5 x 2.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,145,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Opening Skinner's Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century Hardcover – 15 Mar 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
The experiments are interesting, whether or not you are interested in psychology, because what they are about is attempting to understand human beings. Some of them you may be familiar with - most people have heard of Milgram's experiment where unknowing dupes were prepared to deliver what they believed were potentially fatal electric shocks to another participant in an experiment, just because they were asked to, but the author also finds some less well-known and equally interesting experiments.
What she does particularly well, is plunge herself into the issues involved. She doesn't just read about the boxes that Skinner put his trained pigeons into, she goes and looks at them. She doesn't just accept the common-knowledge that Skinner's daughter who he raised on the disciplines of positive reinforcement (in a special playpen he dubbed 'heir conditioner) killed herself, she goes out and talks to his other daughter, who says that this is all nonsense, that her father was misunderstood.
If you think for a second that this is going to be dry or technical, it is not. Every chapter in this book will make you think in a slightly different way about something you've never considered before - I wish I could say that about even 5 % of the novels that are out there at the moment.Read more ›
But there is an edge to Slater's prose. She dwells on the horrific: the lobotomies, the monkeys being abused for the experimenter's purposes, the living rats with their brains exposed... She does/doesn't believe that the means of animal experimentation justifies the ends of neurological knowledge. This dialectic that she holds in her mind, now favoring the value of experimental psychology, now questioning it, may leave the reader dissatisfied and confused. Where DOES Lauren Slater stand? She says she stands "with this book" for which there is no conclusion, even though she writes a concluding chapter with that title.
So it is not so strange that among these "great psychological experiments" she finds nothing like solid ground. Instead she waffles between experimenter and experiment, between one interpretation and another. And while she addresses the experiments themselves and the controversies they raised, more significantly she addresses the experimenters themselves, challenges them with sharp and sometimes impertinent questions; and when the experimenters are not available, she finds relatives or friends and fires loaded questions at them. Slater wants to find the truth, if possible, and to be fair; but often what she finds is that she doesn't know what the truth is, and that life is oh, so complex.
This is refreshing and of course disconcerting.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I studied business and economics at university, but I developed a curiosity for psychology after accidentally going into the wrong lecture hall and being too polite to leave once... Read morePublished 5 months ago by PhillipJames
A new addition to the library for those cold nights in. Very enjoyable and stimulating to read.Published on 2 Dec. 2014 by Joanne Lloyd